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04.12.2015, 14:02
The old wizard versus the young gun
«Go back »Print Version


FACE TO FACE: The critical Group B match between Kristianstad and Montpellier may very well be decided by two competent left wings.
 

The old wizard versus the young gun

There will be a clash of generations on the left wing this weekend in Sweden. On the visitor’s side, 33-year-old French international Michael Guigou and for the home team, 13 years his junior, Jerry Tollbring.

Tollbring has transferred his success with Sweden at the Junior World Championship this season to his club team in their first VELUX EHF Champions League season. Ahead of the Saturday meeting, Montpellier occupy sixth position in Group B, which will mean a Last 16 berth.

The EHF Champions League winners from 2003 have five points, one more than debutants Kristianstad in seventh position, while KIF Kolding Kobenhavn are bottom with two points.

Montpellier got their fifth point through a 29:29 draw at home against MOL-Pick Szeged last Sunday – a result Michael Guigou was generally content with.

“I think the draw was a fair result. They were ahead of us most of the time, leading by three goals in the second half, but we managed to come back and we even had the ball to win. But all in all, we're pleased with it. If you look at both games against Pick Szeged, we have one unfair defeat and one fair draw, which are not results to be ashamed of," says Guigou, who was able to live with the fact that his team failed to win in the end.

"I guess that's just the way things are for us at the moment. We faced a team with more experienced players and in the Champions League, it's very important to know how to take care of the ball in key moments of the game. Pick Szeged are a very strong team; they reached the quarter-finals last season and that’s something we failed to do." adds the experienced left wing, who acknowledges the respect from his young adversary ahead of Saturday’s match.

"Guigou is a very skilled and intelligent player with a lot of variation in his shots. He can even play in the back court line too, where he is particularly efficient when Montpellier are playing five against six," states Jerry Tollbring.

"I can definitely learn something from a player like Guigou. His huge shooting repertoire and his coolness, which comes from his enormous experience are qualities any player would want to imitate, " Tollbring tells ehfCL.com.

Crucial, but not a must-win

As Montpellier are one point ahead of Kristianstad in the battle for sixth place, Michael Guigou does not see the match Saturday evening as a must-win.

"Not necessarily. We have to leave them behind on the ranking, no matter how. So far, we beat the two teams at home who are competing against us for sixth place, KIF and Kristianstad. Now we've got to face them away. They've been able to beat stronger teams, which is something we haven't done yet. Kristianstad, for example, beat Rhein-Neckar Löwen and they were ahead of Pick Szeged before being defeated in the end. A draw in Sweden would be just fine for us, but the crucial point is not to lose," he says.

Being one point adrift of Montpellier, Kristianstad are obviously more in need of a win.

"Yes, we are and it would mean so much to the club to reach the Last 16 in our first VELUX EHF Champions League season ever," states Jerry Tollbring.

"Furthermore, it would also mean a lot to me personally. Playing in this calibre of a league is really great for me, as it is a great opportunity for me to show myself to the biggest clubs in Europe," adds the young left wing, who does not conceal the fact that he is dreaming of a career abroad.

"I think every handball player would dream of a career in a top European club and I am no exception to that rule."

The revelation of the season

Montpellier won the first meeting between the two teams 30:26, but Jerry Tollbring sees a good chance for revenge.

"They are missing Simonet and Gajic and I think that alone boosts our chances considerably. Our defence is likely to be deciding, as this gives us those counter attacks, which have been such an efficient weapon to us so far. I definitely hope to personally benefit from that defence system, to score some goals on counter attacks myself," he says.

Guigou does not want to over-dramatise the absence of Simonet and Gajic.

"Of course, we'd rather have them in the squad, but there is nothing we can do about it so I'd rather not think about it too much. When you look at the schedule, injuries have to turn up at some point. You can't avoid them. You judge a team by its capacity to make up for injured players, by the ability of other guys to step up. We've got players ready to take on the challenge," emphasises Michael Guigou.

Unlike Jerry Tollbring, he is not sure that Kristianstad's defence and counter attacks will be the main worry for him and his teammates on Saturday evening.

"They run a lot, but not only this - they've got power on the backcourt as well. To me, they are the revelation of this season's VELUX EHF Champions League. They've got many players that you probably will see with the Swedish national jersey soon, such as Tollbring or Adreas Cederholm.

"Tollbring has got a lot of potential. He's already very skilled and to me, he's one of the best young players in the competition. But all these players have got quality and in their mind, they've got nothing to lose. Those are young players who don't seem to feel any kind of pressure. Everybody thought they would be out of the competition by now, but here they are, even more dangerous for us in the end." concludes Guigou.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / Peter Bruun / tm
 
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